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Who's Your Mama?

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Jackie Jones
SB Blogger

Joined: 29 Jan 2008
Posts: 100
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 9:50 pm    Post subject: Who's Your Mama? Reply with quote

As I have mentioned in this space before, I am an adoptive parent.

I don't routinely draw a distinction about how I became a mother, but on the eve of Mother's Day I realize that a lot of people do.

There are those who say adoptive mothers can't possibly have the deep bonds with their children that those who carried and birthed their children do.

Hmm, I'd have to ask the women who have abandoned, neglected and abused their children or the women with no maternal instinct who have left their children pretty much to their own devices.

I've had people ask me whether my son has ever tried to connect with his "real" mother. I inform them that, yes, he has met his biological mother; they have an estranged relationship and that as far as I'm concerned, I am very "real" and really tried my best to raise my son well.

I generally don't get my nose out of joint when people I don't know well speak in those terms. It gores my ox to hear it from people who do.

For example, I have had people who know that my son is adopted and know our relationship well tell me they believe I did something wonderful taking in a child (he was 4 when he moved in) and raising him alone. Of course, they also would remind me, I couldn't ever really know the joy of bonding. How could I, they say, since I was never pregnant?

I'll stipulate that I might feel differently if I had carried a baby in my womb. It is true that it's something I'll never know, but I do know that it didn't take long for it to seem as though my son had always been around. When he was young, I was always caught off guard when he would ask me questions like, how old was he when he started walking or what were his first words?

I had to try to track down people in his past - social workers, foster parents - to see if anyone could answer those questions for me.

I also know, too, that many women will never have the experience of pregnancy, but they are just as willing to lay it all on the line for their adopted/foster children as biological mothers and, in some instances, perhaps, moreso.

My son once attended a panel I was on about the pros and cons of adoption. A woman in the audience said she worried that if she adopted that her child may one day want to find her biological mother and that if they succeeded in developing a relationship that she, the adoptive mom, would be kicked to the curb.

My son raised his hand and said that if an adoptive parent was a good, loving and consistent parent that the child wouldn't have any problem knowing where her loyalties lie.

"I am grateful to my birth mother because she gave me life. She didn't have to have me," my son said. "I know who my biological mother is, but Jackie Jones is my mama."

And that's as real as real can get.

So, as I tell my girlfriends every year, if you're actively mothering, whether by birth, adoption, step-parenting, surrogacy, kinship or advocacy, I wish you a REALLY Happy Mothers Day.
Jackie Jones is owner of Jones Coaching, LLC, a career coaching firm based in Washington, D.C. Her new book, "Taking Caring of the Business of You:7 Days to Getting Your Career on Track" is available at
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